Diamonds are considered to be the world’s most precious gemstones and have been used for various purposes for thousands of years. We all know that diamonds are forever, but how many of us really know how they are taken out of the ground?
If you are looking to learn more about diamonds and how they are mined, you are definitely in the right place! Let’s discuss diamonds, how they are mined, and more!
What Are Diamonds?
Diamonds are precious gemstones that are made of pure carbon that is created when carbon deposits approximately a hundred miles underneath the surface of the earth are exposed to extremely high temperatures and crushing pressure. It can take some diamonds a few days to be formed, while others can take a million years to be created.
These brilliant stones are the hardest known natural material in the world and are valued for their unique physical properties as well as their undeniable beauty. Diamonds are often used in industrial applications since they are so hard and durable. They are often embedded in saws that are used to cut masonry and tough asphalt on roadways or used to cut other diamonds since diamonds are the only material that can cut them.
Needless to say, with diamonds being this tough, they are perfect for a variety of everyday wear jewelry. Since the hardness of diamond rates a ten on the Mohs scale, the highest rating possible, it is tough enough to resist just about all scratches and other damage that usually occurs with everyday wear.
Where Are Diamonds Mined?
Since the late 1800’s, the majority of diamonds that are considered worthy of being gem-quality stones have been mined in the continent of Africa. However, Russia has been the largest producer in the world and has been since 2015, when it overtook Botswana as the leading diamond-producing country.
This may be due to a massive asteroid striking Siberian Russia over 35 million years ago which caused such an impact that it created one of the largest craters that can be found on Earth. It is estimated that the asteroid was traveling at a speed close to 12 miles per second.
This incredible speed is so fast that it is difficult for our minds to comprehend, but it is more than 27 times the speed of sound, which means that it would take less than six minutes to go around the world at that speed. The impact must have been world-changing as it hit with enough force to displace millions of tons of material into the air.
This unique phenomenon created enough pressure and a temperature high enough to create impact diamonds where the asteroid landed inside Siberia. The force created was approximately 30 gigapascals, which is three times the pressure that can be found in the deepest part of the ocean. The energy and heat produced reached temperatures close to 4,000 degrees Celsius.
This created the Popigai crater, which is the fourth-largest verified impact crater on Earth and is one of the largest, if not the largest diamond fields that can be found on earth.
These diamonds were formed by what is called shock-induced transformation and resulted in trillions of carats worth of diamonds being formed in and around the crater.
How Are Diamonds Mined?
Rough diamonds are nestled deep in the earth and they have to be extracted using mining processes that can take up to half a year. The two primary methods of mining diamonds are through the use of open-pit mining and underground mining.
Open-pit diamond mining begins with a geologist surveying the land and identifying an area as having diamond deposits. After the deposits have been prospected, a large pit is excavated over the area with the possible diamond deposits, and then heavy machinery is used to dig the rough diamonds from the earth. The rough diamonds are then sent to a processing plant outside of the mine, where it is sorted, graded, and sold to lapidaries or other interested parties.
Underground diamond mining, similar to open-put diamond mining, requires a geologist survey to identify a suitable mine location. Once that is done, a series of tunnels and chambers are dug into the earth to allow miners access to the diamonds hidden underground.
Once the chambers and the tunnels are created and secured with supports, the diamonds can be mined using multiple techniques, including open-pit mining.
It is incredibly important that all workers in the mine wear all recommended preventative measures, such as ensuring the diamond mine is properly constructed, receives regular maintenance, and that proper personal protective equipment is used by every worker. It should be ensured that the mine has sufficient ventilation to prevent a build-up of flammable gases that can lead to catastrophic results.
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As you can see, it is extremely labor-intensive, dangerous, and expensive to mine diamonds. Whether the diamond is mined using open-pit mining, or underground mining techniques, it takes a lot of work to get that diamond into your favorite jewelry piece. How that you understand the work it takes to mine diamonds, take the time to appreciate your favorite diamond pieces a bit more than usual the next time you wear them out.